New British government threats that a Christian school, which previously was rated “good” and “excellent,” may be closed if it doesn’t promote “other faiths” are based on new regulations that need to be reviewed, according to school officials.
WND reported the U.K.’s official education inspector told an independent Christian school that it is out of step with “British values” prescribed by the government and must invite someone from another faith, such as a Muslim imam, to lead assemblies or it risks being closed.
The threat comes amid a series of new school inspections imposed by the government in response to a “Trojan horse” scandal in which several public schools in Birmingham, England, were taken over by Muslim managers who imposed Islamic education standards.
The U.K.’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, known as Ofsted, then established new rules requiring the active promotion of “British values” such as tolerance.
Consequently, the government sent a letter to Trinity Christian School in Reading that it was failing to “meet the new requirements for the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils.”
But that was only months after the government’s inspection of the program found the school “good” in most categories.
And on the topic at hand, the government report, as of November 2013, said: “The provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is excellent. Every care is taken to provide pupils with plentiful opportunities to enhance their spiritual understanding and development through the biblically based curriculum and daily Christian assemblies that are in keeping with the ethos of the school. … Pupils are well prepared for life in modern, multicultural, democratic British society through the teaching of the Christian principle to ‘love thy neighbor’ as found for example in the teaching of the biblical story of the Good Samaritan.”
The nonprofit British charity Christian Institute has said it may mount a legal challenge to the changes.
And now in a letter to Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan, John Charles, chairman of the school’s governors, said: “We cannot understand how such a change in thinking can take place within a year. It is an explicit aim of ours to encourage pupils to serve and respect other people, appreciate different cultures and ideas and equip them for life in society. But the comments made by Ofsted, as a result of the new regulations, undermine our aims and would prevent us from teaching in accordance with our Christian foundation.”
Ofsted’s inspector told the Christian school “that representatives of other faiths should be invited to lead assemblies and lessons in order for the school to demonstrate compliance.”
The school also needed to provide evidence that it “actively promoted other faiths.”
Teaching that “all people are equal before God and have inherent dignity as human beings” isn’t enough, the inspector said.
Charles wrote: “We are therefore extremely concerned about where the new school standards leave the protections afforded by the Equality Act and our school’s charitable objects as established in its trust deed. We would be very grateful if you would look into this matter for us and review your decision regarding the new regulations.”
He pointed out that the inspector never even asked questions about the curriculum but focused entirely on having the Christian school promote “other faiths.”
Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute, said: “Christian schools like Trinity have a reputation for high standards and well-rounded pupils and they should have the freedom to continue doing what they’ve always done. Parents clearly want such schools to thrive, and the Department for Education should too.”
He noted that the institute had warned the government that the new regulations would result in “enforcing political correctness.”
“We also said there would be hostility to the religious, and ethical, viewpoints of religious schools. The DfE said it would never happen, but since then we’ve been finding case after case where that’s exactly what’s going on.”
He continued: “What we need is to go back to the drawing board to actually talk to stakeholders, talk to faith schools, find out where they’re coming from and come up with a set of proposals which don’t require them to promote beliefs which profoundly go against their own,” he said.
WND reported the new government requirements also have come under fire from the National Association of Jewish Orthodox Schools, which said it was “appalled” by the demands.
WND also reported the education rules were being blamed for requiring teachers to “challenge” the religious beliefs of parents “in the name of equality.”
The institute said a report from Peter Clarke, the former chief of counter-terrorism for the Metropolitan Police, said school children in the “Trojan Horse” schools were encouraged to express vocal support for anti-Christian remarks and Christmas was banned.
The report found a “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham.”
But the institute said the reaction was an overreach, and the rules call for teachers to “actively promote” the rights defined in the Equality Act 2010, including sexual orientation and transsexual rights.
The schools also “will be required to challenge parents” on their values if they contradict what the government has determined is “equality,” a legal analysis concluded.